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Responsive DoormenOver spring break last month, like many Colorado families, we headed to Breckenridge for the week to ski and board. I had booked a 3-bedroom condominium through VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) at a lodge at the base of Peak 8. I booked this unit in particular because of the upgrades: gas cooktop, wine cooler, steam shower, dramatic 2-sided fireplace facing both the master bedroom and living room, and slopeside views.

Because I booked the unit through VRBO, the management company was Pinnacle Lodging, located off-site on Main St. in the town of Breckenridge. Pinnacle represents real estate owners and it’s their responsibility to rectify any maintenance issues on behalf of owners.

Although the customer service at the lodge was great, snow conditions were “epic” (according to my kids), and our vacation was a blast, following our stay, I submitted this review of the condominium unit to VRBO and TripAdvisor:

“We were very much looking forward to our stay in unit 8413 at One Ski Hill Place. Unfortunately, upon arrival, I detected several oversights: the fireplace did not work, the refrigerator ice maker didn’t work, a bathroom toilet seat was looser than any truck stop toilet that I can recall (hardly what you’d expect at these rates…), none of the clocks were set throughout the condo (including kitchen appliances), there was a single skinny cabinet that acted as a pantry (I spent 20 minutes relocating dozens of champagne/wine glasses to a bedroom wardrobe unit in order to make room for pantry items in the kitchen), and, remarkably, there was no coffee maker – only a Keurig unit with three artificially flavored coffee pods… I expect for everything to work in a $109 per night roadside motel – and more often than not, everything does work. And when I’m spending thousands on accommodations, I certainly expect for everything to be in working order. That wasn’t my experience.”

In response to my review, Pinnacle Lodging offered the following reply:

“Thank you for taking the time to review the property. We are sorry for the items that were not up to standards in the unit as we do pride ourselves on having everything in working order. Breckenridge did have a brief power outage which reset all the clocks prior to your arrival, as does sometimes briefly happen in the mountains. A technician did come up to troubleshoot the ice maker and he reported that it was making and dispensing ice when he arrived. Unfortunately, the blower on the fireplace did go out. Though, we did order a new part in order to rectify it going forward. We do appreciate your comments and thoughts and hope to see you again.”

The management response contains disclaimers – just what I’d expect from an indifferent property management company that continued to send boilerplate correspondence via the Visit Breck app (“Hope you are enjoying your stay and that everything is great!”) and never once called me personally to follow up on any of the problems I experienced during my 4-night stay.

If I claim to offer “superior customer service” (as Pinnacle Lodging trumpets on its website) and am aware of a power outage that affected a unit that guests will be checking into, you can bet that I’m sending someone to that unit to reset every clock prior to their arrival. If in reality, however, I’m just going through the motions, then I’d feel justified (as Pinnacle does in its response) in having the guest set his own clocks during his vacation time. A company’s customer service quality is determined by how well it actually treats customers, not by how well it tells them they’ll be treated.

And while we’re on the topic of Pinnacle’s response, recognize that the ice maker did not work when its technician arrived. His “repair” consisted of dumping half a 10-lb. bag of ice in the receptacle and telling me to “just call us if you need more ice.” But Pinnacle’s management is unaware of the truth because no one from Pinnacle has made any effort to contact me to learn firsthand about my experience. When a second technician arrived to repair the fireplace, he was hardly surprised to see it inoperable, telling me: “These same (fireplace) units are in every other (Pinnacle-managed condominium) at the lodge and this is the only one we have this problem with constantly.”

So, it’s obvious that Pinnacle was aware of the problematic fireplace beforehand and elected to prop it up with stopgap measures rather than properly repair the unit prior to our arrival. As a result, we had no evening fires to enjoy throughout the duration of our stay. In March. In Breckenridge. That was quite disappointing.

When problems occur (which is inevitable), they present opportunities to shine only if you view them as opportunities. If you view them as slights to your quality or competency, then you appear defensive and aloof – as Pinnacle Lodging does to me in its response.

Don’t settle for ordinary. Choose extraordinary. (It’s always a choice.) Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.

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Illustration by Aaron McKissen.

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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